Happiness on Nightline

One of the things that I have learned (the hard way) is that looking sensible on TV is harder than it looks.

That’s why I was happy when Nightline decided to interview my co-author Betsey Stevenson rather than me for a segment that ran last week summarizing our research on the relationship between income and happiness.

Freakonomics readers have already read plenty about that research (here), but I thought you might want to see the full Nightline segment, available here.

And if you are still interested in more, here’s a recent interview on BBC radio. If you read Italian, try this; or for the Swedes, see more here (or here).

(An aside: You will note that I referred to Betsey as my co-author, which she is, but that is only a partial description, as she is also my Wharton colleague, and also my longtime significant other. What is the right word for this? “Colleague plus?” I imagine that finding the right language for this is an increasingly common conundrum. Any suggestions?)

Peter Hartman

Betsy is your "special friend". My wife and I got married, in part, because we got tired of referring to each other as "my special friend".


I say combo #5,6 and 8. Life and business/work partner.

Mary Saunders

Maybe we don't need to possess other people any more. We could just refer to them by name, in which case co-author Betsey Stevenson would be sufficient, no "my."

If Betsey is comfortable in the limelight (she certainly seemed to be), then you get to sit back and watch like everybody else.


in China they say 愛人 (airen) which means my beloved, or literally, love person. It's usually more than a lover, could be a spouse, a muse, a PWB, so call her your "airen".


I don't suppose an upgrade to "wife" could be arranged, given your research ...

Mark JigGsaw

How about 'muse'?


I've recently been introduced to the word sambo (saam-boo as not to be confused with the derogatory term), a Swedish word for a couple living together but not married or sarbo if you're in a committed relationship but living apart. It doesn't help the business end of things, but it does address the s.o. part.


Better Half


Hehe, I think boss is probably the most accurate/truthful. But I would vote for "Partner". I think that it is appropriately vague and already comes with built-in associations that seem to accurately represent your 2 primary associations: "Business Partner" and "Life Partner." Making up completely new words is fun, but ultimately silly and not useful, imho.


Uxorial collaborator? Smushing them together to "uxorillaborator" is a bit of a mouthful.

Or considering forming a portmanteau from "life/work partner":

1. Lork partner (pronounced like "lerk") or more succinctly, Lorkner (likewise pronounced "lerkner").

2. Worfe partner (sounds a bit like Wharton and Wolfers, which may be a plus), or shortened further to Worfner.





Jeff S.


Colleagues With Benefits?


You and Betsey are 'umcolleagues'. As in "May I introduce my umm... colleague."


colleague with benefits